“In 2015 the World Health Organisation said the greatest threat to human health in the 21st century is climate change. Doesn’t that suggest it was looking the wrong way when this pandemic came along?”

But million-selling author Matt Ridley believes Covid-19 is unlikely to set back long-term human progress: “Every day, on average, 160,000 people are being lifted out of extreme poverty by innovation. It’s a phenomenon that has been going on for 20-30 years. We are defeating malaria – mortality has halved since 2000. In the background of this crisis, things are going in right direction.”

Ridley’s new book ‘How Innovation Works’ hits the shelves next month. In a new interview with the IEA’s Syed Kamall he stresses the fundamental importance of innovation – and the conditions that encourage it: “Innovation flourishes in freedom – the freedom to experiment, the freedom to think differently, the freedom to do differently.

“And we need more innovation, not less. If we’d had more we would be in a better position to cope with this pandemic.”

Watch this fascinating interview on YouTube.

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